Last week, I was fortunate enough to be the designated blogger for the Miami stop at Books and Books on the Fierce Reads tour. Lucky little me got to sit down with such amazing authors as Gennifer Albin (CREWEL) , Anna Banks (OF TRITON) , Leigh Bardugo (SIEGE AND STORM), Jessica Brody (UNREMEMBERED), and Emmy Laybourne (MONUMENT 14: SKY ON FIRE) and ask them a few fun questions. All of these authors were sweet, insightful, and hysterically funny– as you’ll see for yourself below!
Gennifer Albin: Can I build a moving TARDIS to be inside and then pop out as Rose every once in a while?
Me: You can! Because your costume budget is unlimited.
Gennifer: Then that’s what I’m gonna do! That is mine. And it’s gonna be awesome and it’s gonna be bigger on the inside because also I’ll have technology.
Emmy Laybourne: Okay, I have my answer. I made up a character, okay? I’m going to be sci-fi Mother Ginger from the Nutcracker. Do you know who Mother Ginger is?
Gennifer: People are going to come out of your skirt?
Emmy: Yes, people are going to come out of my skirt–
Gennifer: That’s hot.
Emmy: And you know who’s going to come out of my skirt? Mummenschanz.
Jessica Brody: I only understood half of the words you just said.
Leigh Bardugo: My costume budget is unlimited?
Leigh: All right. I would enter, borne aloft, on a litter by three hundred shirtless gladiators. Each one with their own direwolf. I myself would be wearing a golden headdress… and nothing else.
Gennifer: I’m feeling like actually my budget is pretty low now. I mean 300 gladiators… though actually I would like to pet your gladiators. And you guys can ride in my TARDIS! ‘Cause it’s bigger on the inside.
Jessica: Anna, do you have an answer?
Anna Banks: No, because I don’t know what ComicCon is. Why don’t you guys dress me up?
Emmy: All right, Anna wants us to dress her. So let’s think about this. I would like to dress Anna as the Ice Queen from Narnia.
Leigh: Oh, that would be fun! Does she have a sled? And a little dwarf?
Anna: Okay, now I think I understand the concept.
Gennifer: And Turkish delights? Those always looked better in the cartoon version than in real life.
Emmy: Anna, you would be so beautiful and regal in white ermine– low-cut. It would be great.
Jessica: I am going to be Cinderella and I am going to arrive in a coach with the horses and the mice and all of that– BUT I am going to be trailed by the zombies of The Walking Dead. And they’re going to be chasing after me because royal blood is probably more delicious.
Leigh: But… she doesn’t technically have royal blood. She’s a commoner, right? Sorry, fact-checker!
Gennifer: Sweet, obedient, subservient blood is probably better.
Leigh: Yes, members of the merchant class are particularly savory.
Jessica: Yes, it will be wonderful.
Me: Who is your fictional boyfriend?
Gennifer: That’s really hard. I have so many of them.
Anna: Warner. Warner for me. [Note: of Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi]
Emmy: I’m gonna go with Galen–
Jessica: I was gonna take Galen!
Emmy: –of Of Poseidon, Of Triton, and Of Neptune. Because I’ve always wanted to be in a relationship with a merman– I mean, Syrena prince.
Emmy: It would be fun.
Gennifer: –I’ve been thinking a lot about mermaid sex and I want to know how they do it.
Anna: Mine do it in human form. I don’t know, I mean they pick an island and they go to town like every other human.
Me: Well, that simplifies things.
Jessica: Mine is Maxon from the Selection series!
Leigh: I’m going with– No, I changed my mind.
Gennifer: I’m feeling like I can’t answer this question honestly anymore!
Leigh: Iiiiii– wait, come back to me? I’m having second thoughts.
Anna: Could it be the wine?
Leigh: One can only hope.
Gennifer: Gideon Cross. Oh yeah. It’s Gideon Cross. He’s Sylvia Day’s leading man in the Bared to You novels. And he can go all night long. Don’t put that in there. …No, you know what? You can tell them that.
Jessica: Leigh Bardugo?
Gennifer: I’ve already said the most inappropriate things so you’re good.
Leigh: No, I’m just blanking on his name. The faceless man from– what’s his name? From Game of Thrones. But we’ll go with the Scarlet Pimpernel since I can’t remember his name.
Me: Who is your favorite character to write that’s not one of your main characters?
Emmy: That’s an easy question for me. It’s Max. He’s a first-grader with a wild past. And when he starts talking he just takes over.
Jessica: I’m going to go with Cody who’s the thirteen year-old foster brother of my main character who is like the comic relief, sarcasm-provider… slash the one who calls out Seraphina on all her… particularness.
Leigh: I think Sturmhond qualifies as a main character so I’m gonna go with Genya. ‘Cause even when things get terrible she stays fabulous.
Anna: Does Toraf count as a main character?
Emmy: I think he’s a side character.
Anna: Yeah, Toraf. Because he’s a mess and he’s fun to write. And if there’s anything that I want to be done that’s funny, it can be Toraf that does it.
Gennifer: I tend to think of all of my characters as main characters so I’m actually just like… who is not important? And I’m drawing a blank… Oh wait! I have a favorite, but I can’t say who it is. It’s a huge spoiler for Book 2.
Jessica: Oooo, I know who it is!
Gennifer: Jessica Brody knows who it is and it’s a good answer. And you can have it in approximately 6 months.
Me: If the authorities checked your search history [for research] would any of them come a-knocking at your door?
Anna: Oh, yes.
Emmy: On my browser history, I think you’d find ‘how to scale a building with a grappling hook,’ ‘how to set a dislocated shoulder by yourself,’ ‘how to run a chainsaw off a car battery,’ And a lot of things of like… ‘how to make things to kill people.’ A potato-cannon… you know? In book 2, the kids in the store who remain behind have no weapons and they face some intruders so they have to try to jerry-rig some weapons.
Leigh: Everything I research is sort of like.. “old-timey” ways to kill people and build bombs and poison things so maybe the time cops would come after me? …Which would be awesome. So I think I’m safe.
Gennifer: I think the NSA probably just thinks I have a way more exciting life than I do. I was actually just having this conversation with someone the other day. I was like ‘Enjoy my e-mails. I bet you do.’
Anna: Yeah, Google knows what I do. I mean, Google’s like ‘We have a sale on chloroform!’ And just today– which was stupid of me– I was just curious if the airport workers have to go through security too or if they just have to do background checks or if they could smuggle in stuff…
Jessica: Are you telling me that we’re going to get stopped tomorrow?
Anna: I’m just saying that… I’m going to get stopped tomorrow.
Jessica: I Google a lot of stuff about memories like… ‘Can you erase them?’ ‘Can you download them?’ ‘Can you upload them?’ ‘How can you manipulate someone’s memories and turn them into a killer?’ Basically, how much can you manipulate someone based on just their memories?
Leigh: I’d just like to Google that and see what comes up. ‘Can you manipulate someone’s memories and turn them into a killer?’ Ah, yes! eHow has the answer.
Gennifer: I’m always looking at what the parts of a gun are because I don’t know what they are. Like… what is the thing that you pull… ‘Oh, a trigger!’ You know. I don’t have guns so… someone probably thinks I’m building one.
Anna: Not if you’re looking that up, I wouldn’t think so. If you’re looking up the parts of the gun, I think you’re safe from that.
Me: Do you have a favorite genre outside of one that you’ve written in?
Jessica: I love YA fantasy and dystopia and I haven’t written any of those yet. I think they’re just so inventive and creative. The fact that they create all new worlds that are so different from ours is very impressive.
Emmy: I love westerns. I really do.
Leigh: Ooo! I didn’t know that. What’s your favorite western?
Emmy: Lonesome Dove.
Leigh: I love Lonesome Dove!
Jessica: Lonesome Duck?
Leigh: No, but you are good at titling.
Jessica: I came up with a title for Leigh Bardugo’s book 4.
Anna: Do you have a book 4?
Leigh (laughing): No.
Jessica: The title was ‘Loss and Leprosy.’ Nothing sexier than Leprosy.
Leigh: You know, I really love historical romances.
Anna: Dang it, you took my answer!
Leigh: You can say that too! I love regency romances. And I don’t think what I write is straight-up romance. I like non-fiction too.
Anna: Yeah, I’m going to say historical romance… with a special interest in pirates.
Gennifer: I love YA contemporary. A lot. I’ll probably write it at some point, but I haven’t yet.
Me: What was your favorite or least favorite required reading in school?
Jessica: All of them. Least favorite.
Gennifer: The Grapes of Wrath. Ohhh, the Grapes of Wrath with that God damn turtle. Every other chapter is about this turtle trying to cross the road. It’s horrible.
Leigh: My worst was easily Ethan Frome.
Gennifer: I LOVE Ethan Frome!
Leigh: Nobody loves Ethan Frome. It is the most depressing book that was ever written. If you want to make a high-schooler MORE depressed, have them read Ethan Frome.
Jessica: I’m going to go with Old Man and the Sea because it’s 80 pages long. Which is why I liked it.
Emmy: I’m going to go with The Scarlet Letter. I haven’t read it since high school and I think it could have been good but I had an English teacher who didn’t teach it in a way that was engaging and it’s really the only thing I can remember not liking.
Leigh: I was on a panel where we were talking about ‘if you approach the Scarlet Letter from a YA perspective, how much more interesting it would be for the classroom.’
Emmy: Yeah, exactly! I mean I love books. I love all books, even the ones that aren’t well-written, I’m like “Aww, yes! I’m reading a book!”
*Confirmation from all that Emmy does this*
Gennifer: I really hated Death of a Salesman too. I mean, who is reading that at 17 and going ‘I relate to this. This guy is having a crisis and he’s going door to door and crying?’
Leigh: I will say my favorite probably was Louise Erdrich. She wrote a book of short stories that we had to read and I fell in love with her work and read everything she wrote after it and she was a huge influence on me. So that was something that… I don’t think I would have discovered her otherwise.
Anna: I think that I just block them all out. I don’t remember reading any of them– just enough on Cliff Notes to pass the test.
Jessica: To this day, when someone tells me ‘You should read this book,’ I’m like ‘NO! I WON’T!’ I don’t like being told what to read.
Me: I know you guys get asked for advice to young writers all of the time, but I want to know what BAD writing advice you’ve heard or received?
Gennifer: Any time anybody gives you rules for writing, just… no.
Leigh: The worst advice I ever heard given was to look at the market and try to find out what it wants. Essentially, to watch trends and then write to the trends. That is the best possible way to end up with a book that won’t sell. Because anything that’s happening– that’s on the shelves– by the time you finish that book, it will be over.
Emmy: The worst career advice I ever got, I got from my mother. I got it as an actor. My mother is a genius in all things but she did have this one terrible bit of advice for me. So, I was a sketch comedian. And she goes, “You know what you should do? You know what would be great for your career? You should go on David Letterman!”
Anna: The worst advice I ever got was ‘You’re never going to make it, so you shouldn’t even try. Just stop wasting your time.’
Jessica: You should send them a copy of the New York Times Bestseller list.
Gennifer: I think anyone who gives you advice about writing other than ‘Just keep doing it’ should not be listened to. That’s the only trick: just keep writing. A lot of people want to be heard so they just start screaming out advice and then you look at them and think ‘Why would I listen to what you’re saying? What are your credentials?’ But just keep writing. Don’t listen.
Leigh: Just keep swimming.
Jessica: I don’t like when people try to give you advice when they’re not in the world that you’re in. Or when people come up to me and go ‘I have the most interesting life. You should write about it.’ And I’ll listen to it and yeah, it’s interesting but that doesn’t mean it would make a good book. And I think a lot of people don’t know the difference between what makes a book and what makes a good story to tell around a glass of wine. And there’s a HUGE difference.
Leigh: The best was when my relative said to me: “Oh, you know what you should put in your book? Volleyball.” I was like “…You’ve clearly not read my book.”
Me: That reminds me of Jackson Pearce’s “Stuff Non-writers Say” video. One of the things in it is “You know what you should do? Make your book into a movie!”
Anna: Oh yeah, I’ve gotten that one before. “Have you ever considered turning your books into a movie, Ms. Banks?” *Head thump* “My God! That’s brilliant!”
Me: What book, TV series or… anything else are you most likely to “go fangirl” for?
Jessica: We know Leigh’s answer.
Leigh: Game of Thrones.
Genn: Doctor Who.
Anna: Walking Dead.
Emmy: The Graceling series by Kristin Cashore.
Jessica: Anything by Sophie Kinsella. I think Sophie Kinsella in general. If I met her, I would just be like… *unintelligible murmurings*
Anna: Like what?
Jessica: Like *unintelligible murmurings*
Emmy: I think that’s spelled F-L-A-F F-L-A-F. Just for your transcripts.
Anna: Really? I was thinking the P-H in there…
Want another chance for some of the books in this giveaway? Stay tuned this week for my event recap! I’ll be giving away some Fierce Reads ARCs and awesome swag to boot!